As most of you know I love history: I love to read, I love to study, I love to teach. Here in the parish, around the Synod, over at Drew and at St. Elizabeth’s for the last 30 years. Usually I’m teaching Church history, or about the Holocaust, but the other area that is a passion for me is the Civil Rights movement. And it saddens me that we have whole generations who have no real understanding about the apartheid that existed in our country 50 years ago. And that’s problematic, because if people do not know the horror that was here, they can never appreciate so many of the dynamics that go on in our society today. Poverty, racism, broken families and a burgeoning jail population all have their roots in the nightmare of our history. Especially now…we need to know that history. In this time when hate crimes are growing exponentially and there seems to be a pass on bigotry, racism, homophobia and anti-Semitism. That is the reason our Confirmation Retreat this weekend had as its theme, Race, Hatred and Bigotry. What wonderful discussions we had and how blessed we were to have our High School Peer Leaders leading our event. It is why Pastor and I had our 3 week Holocaust Symposium last October. It is why the two of us have a new Symposium on Race, Hatred and Bigotry scheduled for next September.
Boy, this has been quite a month. So much going on – so many different voices and messages. These past four weeks we’ve read through the fifth chapter of Matthew’s Gospel. Week by week reading through the first part of the Sermon on the Mount.
We began at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, with the Beatitudes. God’s blessings; framing the call to discipleship with a message that’s cryptic and precise. Full of meaning for our lives.
In case you missed the Announcements, Pastor Mac is away today. After reading today’s lessons, I don’t blame him.
There’s a difference between taking the Bible literally and being faithful to God’s Word. Today’s readings seem to be filled with some tough lessons, anger, and harsh criticisms. But, go a little bit farther, and dig a bit deeper into the texts, we discover a message of new life rooted in God’s love. There’s a clear call to risk, but in those words, we also find God’s promise to be with us – even when we’re not so sure.